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Looking for 2011 Tax Relief? There’s Still Time PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Ginny Grimsley   
Friday, 23 December 2011 14:52
Expert Shares Tips for Saving on Your Income Tax

If you’re just beginning to think about your 2011 income tax return, you’ve got a late start – but it’s still not too late to cash in on some savings.

“A lot of the deductions associated with the economic stimulus package will disappear in 2012, so if you want to take advantage of them, you’ve got only until Dec. 31,” says Jessica James, CPA and author of Justice for None (www.AuthorJessicaJames.com), an insider look at IRS tactics in a tax fraud investigation and trial.

But, she says, there’s still plenty of time for some other measures to ease your share of the tax burden. Now is also a good time to resolve to start earlier in 2012 to minimize that year’s tax bill. Here are a some tips for both 2011 and 2012 savings.

• Contribute to retirement accounts. If you haven’t already put money into your traditional or ROTH IRA account for 2011, you’ve got until April 17 to do it. If you have a Keogh or SEP (Simplified Employee Pension Individual Retirement Arrangement for businesses), and you get a filing extension to Oct. 15, you’ve got until then to make your 2011 deposits. The maximum IRA contribution for 2011 is $5,000, or $6,000 if you’re 50 or older by the end of the year. For self-employed people, the maximum for SEPs and Keoghs for 2011 is $49,000.

• Don't fear the home office deduction. In the past, many tax filers didn’t claim a home office deduction because it was seen as an IRS red flag. But the requirements and forms have been clarified so people can do that properly – and not make mistakes that can lead to an audit. Also, the rules have been expanded so more people can claim the deduction. If you use a home office exclusively for business, even if you don’t meet your clients there, you’re eligible. For instance, a handyman who does his work other people’s houses can claim the deduction if he does his paperwork at his home office. Another change is that, in the past, if you claimed 10 percent of your home as an office, that amount would not be included in the $250,000 tax-free profit from the home’s sale that’s allowed for an individual by the IRS. Be sure to make your claim reasonable, or it will get questioned; a $25,000 home office deduction for a business with $50,000 annual gross revenue is not reasonable.

• Maximize your Flexible Spending Account. The Health Care Act will limit the maximum you can put into these pre-tax medical expense accounts in 2013. So 2012 is the last year to use an FSA to pay for orthodontics and other large medical expenses using pre-tax earnings. A medical expense flexible spending account, or FSA, allows you to use before-tax earnings to pay for medical or health care expenses not covered by your health insurance. Assuming a 25 percent tax rate, you avoid $25 in taxes for every $100 you spend from your FSA.

• Need to sell an investment? Next year may be the time. The Tax Relief Act maintains the tax rate cap on capital gains and dividends at 15 percent through 2012. In 2013, the cap for capital gains will increase to 20 percent and for dividends, 39.6 percent. The Health Care Act also created a 3.8 percent Medicare tax on investment income, effective in 2013. Given those scheduled increases, plan to take advantage of the rates next year.

James is an author pseudonym used because she fears her novel may provoke IRS retaliation. It’s a fictionalized account of her experience as a minor player swept up in an IRS probe that included anyone associated with the primary target, a corporation. She says that, though she was innocent of any wrongdoing, she was coerced into accepting a plea deal by the IRS, which was bent on amassing adjudications of guilt to justify the investigation’s expense. She pled guilty to a count of falsifying a tax return and continues to work as a CPA.

About Jessica James

Jessica James is a CPA and the author of a novel, “Justice for None,” about her experiences as a minor target in a major federal tax fraud case.  After her ordeal, she decided to write about it as a warning to others who think they can take on the government and win.

 
Winegard Company Wins National Safety Council Award for 1 Million Work Hours without an Occupational Injury PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Shelby Kraus   
Friday, 23 December 2011 14:40

Company credits teamwork and commitment in attaining important milestone

BURLINGTON, Iowa – (December 19, 2011) – Winegard Co. claimed a significant national award for surpassing one million injury-free work hours at its facilities. That means no work time lost to injuries in more than a year for the antenna manufacturer that proudly makes its antennas in the U.S.A.

The National Safety Council recognized Winegard for notable performance in occupational safety and health with the Million Work Hours Award. This award recognizes the achievement of one million consecutive work hours without an occupational injury or illness resulting in days away from work or death.

"It took a tremendous amount of teamwork to achieve this award," said Vic Kohlhof Winegard safety director. "Only a very few elite companies ever achieve such a phenomenal goal and we’re proud to be one of them. I’d like to express our gratitude to everyone at the company for their commitment to our safety programs, from all the team members to the hiring manager."

"Safety compliance and an accident-free workplace allow Winegard to keep costs down," added Kohlhof. "It allows us to provide our customers with the lowest-total-cost-products made by skilled, experienced workers in the U.S. enabling Winegard to be competitive in the global marketplace."

About Winegard
Winegard Company is a respected world leader in the design and manufacture of innovative antenna products for satellite and terrestrial communications. Since its founding in 1954, Winegard’s pioneering solutions have shaped the industry for home, recreational vehicle (RV), truck, marine, medical and automotive antennas. The company’s VSAT 2-way antennas provide real-time broadband solutions for extreme and remote environments in support of the oil and gas industries, as well as military and emergency response teams. Winegard is a privately-owned company that designed the first antenna for the U.S. It has designed more than 1,000 antenna models and does custom antenna design and development work. To learn more about Burlington, Iowa-based Winegard, visit http://www.winegard.com or call 800-288-8094.


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Ron Paul Statement Concerning Becket Fund for Religious Liberties Lawsuit PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Gary Howard   
Tuesday, 20 December 2011 16:04
Citing Jefferson, Dr. Paul calls federal mandate forcing private institutions to cover contraceptives “sinful and tyrannical”
LAKE JACKSON, Texas – The Ron Paul 2012 Presidential campaign released the following statement concerning the Becket Fund for Religious Liberties lawsuit filed on behalf of Belmont Abbey College, located in North Carolina.  Below please find comments from Congressman Paul:

"I applaud the Becket Fund for coming to the defense of Belmont Abbey College, a Catholic school founded by Benedictine monks.  Federal bureaucrats are using their powers to try to force this traditional Catholic school to cover contraceptives, defined to include drugs such as RU-486, as part of their group health care plan.

“Thomas Jefferson said it was ‘sinful and tyrannical’ to ‘compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves and abhors.’  Forcing private religious institutions to cover RU-486 certainly falls within Jefferson's definition of sinful and tyrannical. 

“Unlike other candidates, I have fought against the federal promotion, funding, and mandating of contraceptives and abortion my entire political career.  As President, I will use my constitutional authority to stop federal bureaucrats from forcing any institution to violate their sacred moral and religious beliefs by making them provide coverage for contraceptives in their health insurance plan."
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Governor Quinn Announces Public-Private Initiative to Grow Independent Housing for Persons with Disabilities PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Nafia Khan   
Tuesday, 20 December 2011 15:04

State Investment Spurs Private Investment in Innovative Housing Program, Returns Vacant Properties to Productive Use

CHICAGO – December 16, 2011. Governor Pat Quinn today announced the commitment of $15 million in Illinois Jobs Now! capital program funds to launch a housing program to help people with disabilities live independently. Joined by partners and advocates, Governor Quinn laid out plans for the first phase of the new public-private Home First Illinois initiative. In this first phase, accessibility features will be added to 18 condominium units in Chicago, creating new independent living opportunities for Illinoisans with disabilities and returning vacant housing to productive use.

“By increasing accessible and affordable housing opportunities for our state’s residents with disabilities, we are helping to increase their independence and improve their quality of life,” Governor Quinn said. “Through this program and other initiatives, we are expanding choices for those who want to live in the community. This program also will help Illinois’ economy by turning vacant housing into attractive, accessible units.”

Under Governor Quinn, the Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA) provided financing to nonprofit lender IFF to develop the program. The state’s commitment leveraged an additional $4 million investment from Chase bank, and an additional $125,000 in operational support from The Chicago Community Trust.

Over the next three years, the Home First Illinois initiative will develop nearly 100 accessible and affordable homes, creating permanent affordable housing opportunities for an estimated 145 people with disabilities. Accessibility features can include wider doorways, bathroom handles or a flashing light system to notify residents when someone is visiting.

In the first phase, 18 units will be rehabilitated and are anticipated to be ready for occupancy in the Chicago area in six months. IFF, which will manage the units, will use the capital program funding to target currently vacant units in elevator buildings to enhance accessibility. After renovations are complete, not-for-profit Access Living will provide referrals and help individuals with physical disabilities move from institutions into the newly-accessible community settings.

“This collaboration of nonprofit, public, private and philanthropic partners takes an innovative ‘strength-in-numbers’ approach to eliminate housing barriers for Illinois residents who have disabilities,” IHDA Executive Director Mary Kenney said.

“This is private/public partnership at its best,” said Marca Bristo, President and CEO of Access Living. “The purchase of distressed properties will help communities grow stronger, and people with disabilities in institutions will find a place to live in the community.”

Governor Quinn included $130 million in the Illinois Jobs Now! capital program for affordable and supportive housing, demonstrating his administration’s commitment to creating additional opportunities for people with disabilities to live independently. The first phase of the Home First Illinois initiative will create 21 construction jobs. Chase pledged an additional $4 million toward the initiative in support of future phases of development and the creation more jobs.

“This project is helping expand opportunities for people with disabilities to be part of our communities,” IFF CEO Joe Neri said. “The initial public funding under the state of Illinois’ capital program helped leverage additional support from critical partners, such as Chase, to expand the reach of this initiative.”

"JPMorgan Chase’s commitment to strengthening our communities by increasing access to capital is reflected in this important housing initiative and is a great example of the best type of partnership. Providing appropriate and affordable housing and creating jobs has multiple benefits within our communities both socially and economically,” said Glenn Tilton, JPMorgan Chase Chairman of the Midwest.

About IHDA

The Illinois Housing Development Authority (www.ihda.org) is an independent, self-supporting bonding authority that finances the creation and preservation of affordable housing throughout Illinois. Since 1967, IHDA has allocated more than $10.6 billion to finance more than 215,000 affordable housing units for the residents of Illinois.

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Daily Deals Site SweetJack Launches in Quad Cities Metropolitan Area PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Nadin Naumann   
Tuesday, 20 December 2011 15:02

Daily deals site SweetJack.com continues its rapid national expansion with its launch today in the Quad Cities metropolitan area in Iowa and Illinois. SweetJack, named for the Jack Russell terrier who “fetches” the best deals, debuts today with an offer of $20 in sizzling tacos from Ganzo's Mexican Restaurant & Cantina in Davenport, Iowa for just $10. Daily offers at top restaurants, stores, salons and venues will be promoted to listeners on Cumulus radio stations in the Quad Cities community, including 97x, Rock 104-9, B100, Star 93-5 and True Oldies 1170.

Platform Will Offer Insider Prices at Favorite Spots Around Region Promoted Through Quad Cities’ Most Popular Radio Stations

(ATLANTA, December 16, 2011) — Daily deals site SweetJack.com continues its rapid national expansion with its launch today in the Quad Cities metropolitan area in Iowa and Illinois. SweetJack, named for the Jack Russell terrier who “fetches” the best deals, debuts today with an offer of $20 in sizzling tacos from Ganzo's Mexican Restaurant & Cantina in Davenport, Iowa for just $10. Daily offers at top restaurants, stores, salons and venues will be promoted to listeners on Cumulus radio stations in the Quad Cities community, including 97x, Rock 104-9, B100, Star 93-5 and True Oldies 1170.

Since its launch in Atlanta in April 2011, SweetJack has expanded to 17 cities and over one million members. The profitable daily deal platform has additional expansion plans blanketing the United States for 2012.

“SweetJack will be a fantastic addition to Cumulus Quad Cities,” said Cheryl Riley-Hayles, VP/Market Manager, Cumulus Quad Cities. “It's a great opportunity to partner with merchants who want to capitalize on the power and reach of our radio stations.  At the same time, our listeners will receive the benefit of great deals — and everyone is looking for a great deal in the current economic environment.”

SweetJack is a division of Cumulus Media, the nation’s second largest radio company with over 570 stations. By utilizing the existing sales force at partner radio stations, SweetJack is the only deal platform with a built-in infrastructure for securing the bestlocal and regional merchants.

“Radio stations are the primary means for people to learn about what’s going on in their communities,” said David Lubell, VP of Social Commerce. “We own the most popular radio stations and massive email lists, providing the broadest reach and the loudest mouth in town for our merchants—and the best deals for our listeners.”

Some additional offers coming to Quad Cities include Waterfront Deli, The Boat House Restaurant, Leisure Time Billiards Sports Bar & Grill and Snap Fitness.

Customer-focused characteristics that differentiate SweetJack from other deal sites include:

  • SweetJack does not require a minimum number of purchasers for a deal to kick in
  • In addition to the deal of the day promoted through emails and on the radio, customers can visit SweetJack for an online store listing dozens of additional deal opportunities
  • Customers can immediately redeem their deal certificates upon purchase, as there is no waiting period

For more information, visit SweetJack.com.

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